Africa’s largest telecommunications giant MTN has sacked 280 employees in its Nigerian unit where a hefty regulatory fine has sunk its fortunes. Photo: EPA
Johannesburg - Africa's cellular giant MTN last week concluded a voluntary severance scheme with employees at its Nigerian unit last week, it said on Tuesday.

MTN Nigeria, which has been through major shakes, including the hefty regulatory fine for missing the deadline for unregistered SIM cards, entered into a voluntary severance scheme with employees as part of a push to refresh its vision to meet technology shifts in the oil-producing nation.

Without giving the number of employees affected, MTN spokesperson Omasan Ogisi said yesterday that the severance scheme was part of an ongoing business transformation drive towards sustained growth, to facilitate the firm’s continued role as a partner for progress and socio-economic development in Nigeria.

“MTN is a diverse community of committed change agents, brought together in pursuit of a common goal - driving growth and transformation by sharing our technology.

“Our people are our greatest asset, each individual’s knowledge, experience and ideas contributes to our continued growth and improvement.

“As such, ensuring a healthy and highly motivated workforce is a priority for us,” Ogisi said.

MTN Nigeria had implemented a voluntary severance scheme designed to balance individual employee needs with business exigencies, she added

“The programme was designed drawing on feedback from employees and following consultations with elected employee representatives.

“It provides a financial incentive and opportunity for employees who have worked with MTN for more than five years to pursue other career interests and personal ambitions full-time, while increasing opportunities for professionals with a fresh perspective wishing to join the MTN family,” Ogisi said.

Read also: MTN delivers first ever loss

It was reported that 280 employees were affected, including 200 workers who applied for the voluntary severance scheme, while 80 were given compulsory disengagement.

In 2016, the company reported a headline loss of 77 cents a share, mainly because of the Nigerian fine.

It declared a second-half dividend of R4.50 a share, taking the final dividend for the year to R7 a share.

Revenue rose marginally by 0.4 percent with the company attributing this to the depreciation of the rand and the naira against the dollar.

The group, which is in the process of restructuring its portfolio, appointed a new chief executive, Rob Shuter, who will take over by July 2017.

MTN shares rose 0.24 percent on the JSE to close at R126.80.